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Epidermal Inclusion Cysts

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What are epidermal inclusion cysts?

Epidermal inclusion cysts are the most common skin cysts in adults. These cysts are usually round, firm lumps filled with a cheese-like material called keratin. They are also called epidermoid, keratin, or sebaceous cysts. They can be found almost anywhere on your body. The cysts are most common on the face, back, neck, chest, and around your ears. They can be caused by blocked hair follicle and oil gland ducts in your skin. The cysts can grow larger and make it hard for you to sit or walk if they are on your legs or back. Epidermal inclusion cysts may grow slowly but are not cancer.

How are the cysts treated?

Treatment is not needed if you have no symptoms. The following can help treat a cyst, if needed:

  • A procedure may be used to open and drain cysts that become infected or cause problems.
  • Antibiotics may be given if you have a bacterial infection.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove the cyst completely.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your cyst becomes swollen, red, and painful.
  • Your cyst is large and leads to trouble moving or a deformed area.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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